volunteer_this_holiday_season
Many people think that they can’t help others if they don’t have money to donate, yet there are many other ways to give back to those in need. Most organizations would be grateful for a pair of helping hands if you have a little time to spare this holiday season. At a time when many people are caught up in the commercial aspect of the holidays, giving back to others can be a very fulfilling and rewarding experience. Here are five international organizations where you can volunteer this holiday season.

1. Stop Hunger Now

Stop Hunger Now is an international relief organization that provides food packages with over 23 essential nutrients to those in need. The organization has helped provide food and aid to people in 65 different countries. Stop Hunger has over 25 meal packaging locations across the U.S. where anyone is welcome to go and volunteer. You can also arrange a meal packaging drive in your local community where Stop Hunger Now will travel to you. The group makes meal packaging a fun activity and encourages teamwork between volunteers to raise production goals.

2. Heifer International

Hiefer has helped bring over 20.1 million families out of hunger and poverty through the use of animals, water purification, women’s empowerment and sustainable farming. The organization’s unique donation system allows donors to fund life-saving projects as well as partial and complete animal donations (mainly cows, goats, sheep, llamas and bees). These animals can help provide a community with valuable resources so they can learn to feed themselves.

In addition, Hiefer offers a multitude of volunteering experiences that range from simply getting the word out about the cause to working on one of Heifer’s animal farms. For those who want to stay local, volunteers can conduct fundraising campaigns like the Read to Feed drive, which promotes a love of reading in children as well as community service. Volunteers can also help advocate Heifer International at local and national events or even travel to one of Heifer’s U.S. farms where they can chose from a variety of volunteer programs lasting from several hours to five days long. You can even sign up to stay and work on the farm for several months if you aren’t quite ready to leave.

3. Oxfam International

Oxfam has established development programs in over 90 countries which work to improve human rights, food security, healthcare and education. The organization allows volunteers to work towards global human rights and poverty-elimination at the local level. Volunteers have the opportunity to join the organization’s Action Corps, a group of trained grassroots advocates that work together locally to gain support for life-saving policies, defend human rights and help communities across the world to overcome hunger and climate change. Action Corps members primarily work as advocates at local events, as event organizers and as leaders. Oxfam’s volunteer program has received great feedback, helping many to develop valuable leadership skills and standout in the job market.

If you aren’t looking to make the commitment to the Action Corps program, Oxfam also looks for volunteers to represent the group at concerts and festivals as well as local events such as farmers markets.

4. Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity strives to provide safe, affordable housing for low-income families throughout the world. The organization prides itself on an open door policy which brings people together from all walks of life. Habitat has local branches throughout all 50 states, making it easy and convenient for volunteers. Individuals can volunteer at their local branch or even participate in an international Global Village volunteer trip. Volunteers work as a team to build and repair houses for those in need and they can devote as little as one day since there are no time requirements to help out. Volunteering at Habitat helps individuals build skills, meet other like-minded people, while providing a rewarding experience to those involved.

5. Mercy Corps

Similar to Heifer International, Mercy Corps offers many charitable gift ideas that go to those living in poverty. This includes donations of livestock, clean water systems, solar power, vaccinations and education for women and children. Mercy Corps’ gift site makes it easy and fun to give rewarding and charitable gifts- a unique idea for this holiday season!

Mercy Corps Action Center volunteers are able to use their people skills by speaking at events and managing information tables for the organization. In addition, the organization’s MicroMentor system connects business mentors, volunteers and entrepreneurs.

Volunteering at one of these organizations is a great way to give back this holiday season. Though, don’t forget that these groups need help throughout the rest of the year as well.

– Meagan Douches

Sources: Habitat For Humanity, Heifer International, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, Stop Hunger Now
Photo: Wikipedia